Stolen content

�Game of Thrones� is set to be the year�s most pirated TV show

From book, to screen adaptation, to the ultimate in (illegal) online content, Game of Thrones encapsulates the evolution of mass entertainment. Based on A Song of Fire and Ice, George R.R. Martin�s wildly popular series of fantasy novels, Game of Thrones is beloved by the people who made Peter Jackson�s adaptation of The Lord of the Rings so successful. Which is a lot of people.

Made for cable television station HBO in the US, and predominantly filmed in the UK with a British cast (well, all those actors need something to do now that the Harry Potter franchise is complete), it was an instant hit when debuting in April 2011. Dubbed �The Sopranos in Middle-earth�, Game of Thrones blends epic, sword-wielding, goblin-fighting, dragon-chasing fantasy with complex, believable characterisations supported by intelligent dialogue. Which makes it that rare thing � a TV show that goes beyond the superficial.

The appeal of online content

But popular as the show has been around the world on TV, that is nothing compared to its online appeal. The only thing is, online access to this particular content offering hasn�t exactly been kosher.

Forbes reports that the show�s first season was the second-most illegally downloaded series of 2011, and the signs are that it is set to have the dubious distinction of taking top spot this year: �The second season of the show has been downloaded more than 25 million times from public torrent trackers since it began in early April, and its piracy hit a new peak following April 30th�s episode, with more than 2.5 million downloads in a day.�

There seems to be two clear reasons for this: �While Game of Thrones� filesharing rates are probably driven in part by its appeal to the young, geeky male demographic that�s most prone to using torrent sites, HBO hasn�t helped the problem by making the show tough to watch online for the young and cable-less. The show isn�t available through Hulu or Netflix, iTunes offers only Season 1, and using HBO�s own streaming site HBO Go requires a cable subscription.�

Which suggests that if content producers really want to beat the pirates, making their online content more readily available through legal digital channels may be the way to go.


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